Self-Publishing Course Jericho Writers

Coronovirus has caused me much deliberation this week. Was the slight tickle earlier in the week just a regular cough or something more sinister? (the former). Do I want to be in a large crowd? (there were only 40 attending and a nice big space to spread out in). Do I want to travel on the tube? (my lovely husband drove me door-to-door). I decided to attend the Self-Publishing Course run by  Jericho Writers. I was so pleased that I did. Great sessions by Melissa Addey and Harry Bingham.

Here are a few key points:

Read, read, read – everything about self-publishing – particularly Mark Dawson, Joanna Penn and David Gaughran.

Treat writing (and getting published) like it’s a job.

If you have a choice, write in popular genre areas – not obscure. Readers always want more books like their favourite novels.

A series works better than stand-alone for self-publishing.

Build your writing CV – any relevant past experiences, writing successes, education and courses in creative writing.

Write a Business Plan – what do you want to achieve in six months/one year? Create opportunities and stalk your prey.

Go narrow – exclusive to Amazon as it also gives you Kindle Unlimited (together they make up 80% of book sales) and it’s worth more £ than going wide (Kobo, Apple, etc).

Your email mailing list is absolutely crucial.

You’ll need a ‘reader magnet’ (something specific and exclusive) to giveaway to your ‘reader club’ – a prequel to your novel works well.

The text of your book matters more than anything else.

The cover is the first key step in your conversation with your reader. The cover, title and blurb must all define and solidify the theme/genre of your book.

Don’t start traffic to your book until everything is perfect – text, cover, book description, genre and sub-categories, keywords, e-book, reader magnet and website.

Use links in book one to direct readers to your next book and also to a page on your website where they can order ‘my free e-book’ in exchange for their email address.

Reviews – don’t cheat and get friends and family to write them. If reviews not written by actual readers of your genre, it messes up the system. Amazon needs to learn who your real readers are so it can recommend your books to them.

Outsourcing – self-publishing can be supported by companies like Bookouture.com (via submissions) or Sam Pearce at Swatt-books.co.uk – package costs £3800 for 80k book (not including marketing).

Phew – plenty for me to get on with during Coronovirus self-isolation if it comes to that!

Stay well everyone.

Editing your Book

With some help from David Gaughran ‘Let’s get Digital’

So, you’ve finished your book…

CONGRATULATIONS. That’s no small thing. Not many people actually finish a first draft of the book they’ve been brewing and writing over X months or years so WELL DONE!

Now you need to get your book edited.

It’s really important that your book is edited so it’s the best version it can possibly be. A poorly edited book does your reputation as an author no good, not to mention that it helps reinforce all those negative stereotypes about self-published authors (and none of us want that)

A professional editor is best but can be expensive. Some writers decide to pay for a detailed manuscript appraisal but, as this can cost around £500, it’s out of my league I’m afraid.

At the very least:

  1. Self-edit your first draft. There are good books that will help you. I like ‘Self-Editing for Fiction Writers’ by Renni Browne
  2. Send your second draft out to a few beta readers for a content edit. Choose people who will give you honest constructive feedback. Ask them to focus on particular things – does the plot work? Where does it drag? Are the characters consistent? I belong to an excellent writing group and we meet once a fortnight to give feedback to each other on these sorts of things.
  3. Find a copy editor. This is likely to be my first big financial outlay on my road to self-publication. You need someone who will be picky on the grammar. There are lots of copy editors out there and it’s easy to come unstuck. Make sure you contact them and agree their editing role. Ask for a sample edit of 1000 words, you’ll have to pay but it’s important that you and your editor can work together. Don’t pay the hole fee upfront. There are sites online where you can find an editor like Reedsy or KBoards.com but check their reviews. Word of mouth is probably the best recommendation.

Good luck.

I’ll let you know how my editing is going. Please do the same.

Seven Processes of Self-Publication

Adapted from ALLI Self-Publishing Advice

Self-publishing authors are Indie authors

There are seven processes on the journey to self-publication. Yes, I did say seven, and no, we’re not going to throw in the towel. I’m sure we can work through these processes together. If I can do this then anyone can!

So, here’s the overview:

The first three come under the umbrella of making your book (after you’ve finished writing it of course) Put your hand up if you thought typing THE END was the end? Nope, turns out it’s just the beginning…

  • Editorial – this includes the content edit (which looks at the big picture to fix plot problems and character inconsistencies) and copy edit (which focuses more on grammatical issues)
  • Design – not just the book cover but the blurb (the bit that goes on the back of your book) and the tagline (which is particularly useful when selling on Amazon)
  • Production – this is where things start to get a bit technical – more to follow on future blogs

The next three processes are about selling your book

  • Distribution – how you’re going to get your book out there and grow your readers (big decisions here about whether you engage a distributor for a small fee or do this yourself)
  • Marketing – all the things that give information about you and your books – including your book cover, your website and creating the all-important mailing list
  • Promotion – this is time based more specific projects or special offers – limited sale, first book in trilogy cheap or free, cross promotions with other authors in same genre

And finally

  • Rights licensing – One of the big advantages of self-publishing. CONTROL IS KEY. Keep control of your rights, meta data, positioning, marketing and promotion

Are you still with me? Together we can do this.

Beginnings

I don’t do New Year resolutions. See my article on FocusMe

Instead I like to make my own targets for the year.

2019 was going fine. I had an action plan for the year with the aim of self-publishing one of my novels by Christmas 2019.

It didn’t happen.

The year started well. I achieved a distinction for my MA in Creative Writing. My Imagined Dialogue was published on the Daphne du Maurier website and I’d booked myself on several events to enable me to meet my targets – Fowey Festival, a Jerico Writers event in York and Budleigh Salterton Literary Festival 

It was while I was attending the #foweyfestival in Cornwall I received desperately sad news. My little brother, ten years my junior, had died. That’s not supposed to happen. His death came without warning and really threw me. There were more shocks. I was his named executor but his beneficiary was a person unknown to the family. It seemed my brother had a secret life none of us knew anything about.

As I was thrown into the demands of executorship, plans for completing my novel (seemingly superficial in the light of real life events) went out of the window. Self-editing became impossible. I was however, able to write about what I was experiencing and I wrote it all down. I really recommend #journaling for the bad times in your life. Here’s an extract from an article I wrote for TAMBA (TWINS TRUST) bereavement support:

I found journaling helped me to manage my own grief. It was the start of my healing journey, giving me an outlet for my emotions and a place to store my memories and feelings, like photographs, to take out and experience again. […] The page became my friend, someone I could talk to without having to watch what I said, or how I said it. Sometimes I ranted with the fury of a madwoman – a raw, primitive wail.

The page allows you to vent your anger, guilt and frustration with no judgement or regret. You don’t have to worry that you might hurt someone else’s feelings by saying the wrong thing at the wrong time. The good thing about (journaling) is that you can’t write the wrong thing. […] In the early hours of the morning when I couldn’t sleep, I’d make myself a cup of tea and pour my emotions onto the page. […]  Writing is cathartic. Write when tears are streaming down your face. Let grief fuel your pen. Spew your guts on the page. Swear your f****** head off.

Autumn 2019 and I’d encouraged a friend to take part in NANOWRIMO – I should support her by participating again myself. Journaling had sown seeds and I completed 50k words of my new novel (working title – My Brother’s Dominatrix)

December and Christmas were hectic so it was January before I got back into regular novel writing. My targets for 2019 (to get my work out there and publish my first novel) had to roll into 2020.

And what a good start. I’ve completed a first draft of my novel The Travelling Philanthropist #timeslip. I’ve had a short story published by Shooter literary magazine and I’m working to improve my social media presence.

I shall be documenting my journey to #selfpublishing (see my #Indiepublishing page on this blog). Of course there are excellent resources already out there on the subject – David Gaughran  Jerico Writers to name but two. But I’ll be giving you a breakdown of the key steps in my journey, along with the pitfalls – I’m sure there’ll be plenty.  So watch this space.